Friday, January 4, 2013

Tribute to my Bosses: Now its a HAPPY New Year!

Another proud moment for every IBMer! Almost exactly one year after Ginny Rometty was announced as CEO of IBM Corporation, Vanitha Narayanan was announced as MD of IBM India, taking over from Shanker Annaswamy.

It has been a privilege and honor working with Shanker over the last few years. There is nothing more important to a CMO than for her CEO to take a holistic view of what the marketing and communications function and continuously push for business impact. Shanker never just treated me like a CMO responsible only for marketing tactics. I was accountable and empowered to have an opinion and say on any aspect of the business in our leadership meetings. This was very motivating for me as a new leader and as an IBMer and not only increased my confidence but also allowed me to better understand the India business landscape faster so that I can contribute more effectively to the organization's goals. He also indulged and even encouraged my passion for social business. I remember we were sitting together at a conference and he noticed me live tweeting the proceedings with great curiosity and interest. He was also a huge advocate and one of the first blog contributors to the India Onward Initiative. When Shanker is committed to something, he sees it all the way through, down to the minutest detail. Shanker is easily one of the smartest, sharpest and most composed leaders I have worked with in my career and I am really fortunate that he took a chance on me a few years ago and hired me into this role. Cheers to you boss!

Vanitha Narayanan has been a role model for me for years because of her dedication to client's success and unwavering belief in One IBM. Vanitha has been a very strong supporter and advocate for the marketing and communications function - not just within IBM but also of the CMO role. In fact, she personally hosted the India CMO-CIO Leadership Symposium in November 2012, like Ginni Rometty did in New York and met many leading CMOs across India at the event to understand their business challenges.  For those Desi CMOs who have had the privilege of meeting her already, I know you will agree that Vanitha is the kind of CEO that every CMO would want on their side. Vanitha is a firm believer of quality over quantity and spending as much time as we can with clients, understanding their needs before trying to market to them. I remember attending a meeting with her with the CEO and CMO of a new prospect who were unsure about working with IBM. By the time we left the meeting, it was clear that Vanitha's conviction, authenticity and sincerity won over the client's confidence and just with a few words and her presence, she enabled the account team to pursue the partnership. Despite her hectic schedule, she also invests a lot of time in developing and coaching leaders, like many senior IBM leaders do. She has seen and done almost everything at IBM over her 25 years and  my 1-1 meetings with Vanitha have always left me inspired and motivated to think differently. Vanitha, all I can say is YAY! Congratulations!

With Ginni at the helm and Vanitha on the deck, the IBM India ship is ready to set sail into 2013 full speed ahead. World, brace yourself. GREAT things are going to happen. If you liked IBM before, you are going to love IBM now!


  1. Nice write up Virginia...a good read.

  2. Very well written.

    With all the recent developments I beleive we as IBM both in India and World over are well poised to truly "Change the world" through what we do so, here's Wishing everyone a great year ahead! Cheers...

  3. This was a very heartfelt summary of your experiences. Thank you for sharing.